Dog Tales! Kabul Cafe! Vanessa Nicolson!

Dog TalesIt’s just two weeks until WhitLit, Whitstable’s very own literary festival, now in its third year. There are some absolutely superb events and guest authors – festival director Victoria Falconer has surpassed herself – so do check out the website for a full calendar. I am hosting three events that touch on my three main passions – dogs, Afghanistan and memoirs! If you’d like to come along and hear from some extremely interesting people who also happen to be great authors (and support me) I would be grateful.

1. Saturday, May 14th. Whitstable Library Lecture Room, 10.30am – 11.30am, £5.50. Kent based BBC vet Jo Hardy and Ramsgate novelist Andrea Bennett chat to Marnie Summerfield Smith about the importance of pets, and dogs especially, in our lives, and the joys and sorrows they share with us. Andrea Bennett’s debut novel, ‘Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged Dog Story’ features Galina, a 70-something heroine, who sets out to free her beloved pet from the clutches of the town’s dog warden, and embarks on an adventure that will change her life. Jo Hardy’s ‘Tales from a Young Vet’, is the story of how Jo, star of BBC2’s Young Vets got to grips with animals big and small, on the road to becoming a fully qualified vet. Together, both writers will explore our relationship with our pets and their importance to our lives. (I have read Jo’s book, still reading Andrea’s. Jo’s is an absolutely charming window into the life of a vet – laughter and tears – I loved it!)

Vanessa Nicolson2. Saturday, May 14th. Horsebridge Centre, 1.30pm to 2.30pm £5.50. Living with a Literary Legacy – Vanessa Nicolson. Vanessa Nicolson is the granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. Born to an illustrious name and an unhappy marriage, her father, the art historian Ben Nicolson, was homosexual and his marriage to Vanessa’s Italian mother fell apart when Vanessa was young. In her powerful memoir about love and loss, she chronicles her disjointed childhood and reckless youth, including holidays at Sissinghurst Castle, her experiences at English boarding school and her daughter Rosa, who died, aged 19. Vanessa Nicolson was an art historian and curator. Her publications include ‘The Sculpture of Maurice Lambert’ commissioned by the Henry Moore Foundation. She lives in Sissinghurst, Kent.
(I have read Vanessa’s book and it is hands down one of the best memoirs I have ever read. It is honest, gentle, bleak and ultimately in that way that memoirs can be – a truly nourishing gift to its readers.)

Heidi Kingstone3. Sunday, May 15th, Whitstable Library Lecture Room, 1pm to 2pm, £5.50. Dispatches from the Kabul Cafe – Heidi Kingstone. Where can you buy 913 Kalashnikovs? How do you tell a friend her expat lover is never coming back? What’s it like to date a mercenary? In 2007, Canadian journalist Heidi Kingstone arrived in Kabul to uncover the mysteries of this turbulent corner of the world. Heidi talks to Marnie Summerfield Smith about her encounters with idealists, gunrunners and warlords. A passionate advocate for women’s rights, she witnessed women as heroes, victims, freeloaders, and rivals. Heidi’s account of ISAF-controlled Kabul is atmospheric, personal and often painful. Heidi Kingstone is a foreign correspondent who has interviewed key international figures from Benjamin Netanyahu to Princess Anne. (I have nearly finished Heidi’s book and it is utterly gripping and truly fascinating – a view into a world rarely seen.)

 

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Dear Marnie

I was delighted when Marnie agreed to provide a workshop for the 2018 Kent Festival of Writing. Zuihitzu, the Japanese art of following the pen, proved a very attractive proposition for our delegates and we were oversubscribed. Neither Marnie or I wanted to turn anyone away, so it was a packed event!
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Sue Bassett

Thank you for your help in making this happen, and for putting Neil’s words together so accurately. We were so pleased that the first draft arrived in time for us to read it as a family to Neil. I know he really enjoyed his couple of days with you. Thank you. Sarah Vines, brother of…
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Sarah Vines

In the run-up weekend to our 2018 festival Marnie hosted a very well attended day of memoir-writing events, beginning with a moving, eloquent discussion in which she talked to author Sarah Pullen about her memoir A Mighty Boy. As an interviewer Marnie is a true professional, asking thought-provoking yet sensitive and heartfelt questions, and putting…
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Amanda Dackombe

My darling, I have read the book from cover to cover out loud. It is a wonderful book. My excitement is so great darling, you’re a star. Let’s write another one! Lady Sandra Bates, seventh bunny at the original Playboy Club, London, and author of How To Be A Kept Woman
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Lady Sandra Bates

It was a pleasure working with Marnie on the Writer’s Weekend. She was approachable, professional and communicative in the lead-up to the event and during the weekend she was wonderful. All delegates commented on her kind manner, her knowledge, and her ability to bring out the best writing in them. I can highly recommend collaborating…
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RedDoor Publishing

While reading your feedback yesterday the hairs were literally standing on my arms because I knew you were the right person to make this manuscript the best it can be…
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Tony Barbieri

A couple of weeks after the Memoir Writing Weekend, I am reflecting on what a difference it has made. For a long while I have had a desire to share my story, I did not have a clue how or where to start. All I knew is that there was at least one story there…
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Rose Smith

All I knew was: I wanted to share my story, write my memoirs. I Googled ghostwriter and Marnie was the first person I contacted. Marnie made such a great first impression that I felt no need to look any further.
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Anthea McCarten

This was a brilliant weekend – way above my expectations. Marnie just knows about memoir and her presentations were superbly focussed and paced. It’s rare to find someone who combines a high level of professional knowledge with the relational skills that make it all work. If you are needing support with your writing, hire this…
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Edna Murdoch

I found Marnie to be such an affable person. Not only that, but she gave me the confidence to finish my memoir.
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Martin Davies

I have been lucky enough to work with Marnie on several occasions where she has interviewed, hosted and compèred events I have been managing. Marnie is a joy to watch at work. When the lights dim and she takes the microphone, I feel totally at ease knowing that everything will be safe in her hands.…
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Nancy Clark

Thank you so much for the edit. It was actually perfect. There were places where I knew the words were not quite right but I somehow couldn’t find a way to fix it and it’s exactly where you edited so I’m chuffed about that.
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Anon

Marnie interviewed me about my memoir Have You Been Good? for Whit Lit in 2015. Before we met at the festival, we had a long telephone conversation and I was struck at how quickly she understood my book. Her intelligence, warmth and sensitivity made the interview on the day feel more like a conversation with…
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Vanessa Nicolson

(My life) was a living nightmare. Thanks for listening to it and helping me come to terms with it and enabling me to write this story.
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Anon

Thank you for interviewing me for my event at the London Fashion and Textile Museum in November, 2018. You made me feel so relaxed and I appreciate your unerring and priceless support. You made the talk possible for me and I’m incredibly grateful. Liz Wilson, owner of Eclectica Vintage
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Liz Wilson

A very good service. As well as helping us write our memoirs about our adventures as wartime entertainers, Marnie arranged for us to be interviewed on BBC Radio 4, and organised a wonderful book launch for us at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley.
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Mollie and Peggie

I attended the Red Door Memoir Writing Weekend because my daughter was one of the organisers and I wanted to support her and the Red Door publishing house. I was a little interested in memoir writing but now… I’m passionate about it.
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Alastair Burtt

Thank you Marnie for sharing your insightful and inspirational creativeness with me – well, and all of us. I loved the weekend and have come away full of excitement to write write write. Actually perhaps it’s more to organise organise organise! Oh well somehow I am determined to get my ‘stuff’ together. Thank you again.…
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Penny Wadsworth

Absolutely loved every minute of this amazing memoir writing retreat, and the time spent with such lovely people, sharing their deeply touching life experiences. Special thanks to you Marnie for all your encouragement, support and know how. Marnie helped me with my first book and now I am going to write the sequel myself. Feeling…
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Sally Woodmansee

I found the memoir retreat very inspiring. I was touched by Marnie’s professionalism as well as finesse in her comments. A truly enlightening weekend. Thank you so much for all the encouragement. Mona Radwan
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Mona Radwan

Marnie is a truly special person with a wonderful gift. She is sincere and compassionate. I loved working with her. My book was rather complicated.
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Suzannah Ridgway

Marnie helped my father to edit his memoir Once A Sapper Always A Sapper. He really enjoyed working with her and looked forward to her visits.
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Sam

This book that was written with Marnie, has totally opened the door and changed my whole outlook on life.
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Brian

Marnie is a delightful lady and immediately made my Dad feel relaxed and start to chat about his life and wartime experiences.
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Michael

I’d like to say how much I enjoyed reading my aunt’s memoirs that Marnie collated and wrote.
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Diana

I’d just like to say a huge thank you for the dedication and passion you gave while ghostwriting with me.
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Sally Woodmansee

I am amazed at what you’ve done. I’m excited. I think my memoir will be wonderful.
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JK

This is something I have been waiting to do for a long time, but when I lost my sight I thought that was it. And then I found Your Memoir.
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Jan

All the books we ordered have sold and people are asking for further copies. People have been so interested! We’re really happy with everything Marnie did.
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John

Marnie has the superb ability to write as if she is inside your head – and your heart. Marnie gave me new hope when I was struggling to write my own book.
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SB

I came to Marnie for editing and printing of my life story. I could never have hoped to do the excellent job that Marnie did.
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Gerard

Marnie ghosted our memoir of motorbiking around Europe for charity. The whole experience was very relaxed. Marnie was very friendly and accomodating yet professional.
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Jane and Reg

Home From War is a very moving and touching story of love triumphing over all that life dealt this young soldier. A very captivating read, could not put it down. Would recommend this book.
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Amazon

Home From War is a truly inspirational and moving account of how love can conquer even the hardest things.
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Amazon

I received your book. It is absolutely fabulous. I really enjoyed reading the letters from my grandfather to you.
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Lloyd